Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaykum
I wish to seek a dispensation on the issue of niqab being obligatory. I think I should mention I live in Iraq as I know the ruling on niqab is different to those in the west. Regarding what falls under nudity I stick to the hanafi school which states everything is nudity apart from feet, hands & face and so I don’t cover those around a non mahram. However regarding niqab I hold the opinion it is recommended, not obligatory to cover the face and area under the chin so I don’t cover these around a non mahram either. Is this the correct use of a legal dispensation?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
The Hanafis do not deem a woman’s face to be from her nakedness (‘awra), so it is not obligatory to cover the face in the same sense that it is obligatory to cover the head. But they did generally deem it to be a duty given the societal harm of doing otherwise. It is still undoubtedly possible to realise and follow this in many Muslim societies.
In places where this isn’t the norm, there is a distinct lack of religious behaviour or priorities, or it will cause some kind of greater detriment, godfearing scholars have deemed it acceptable to leave it aside.This is acceptable given that the original duty of covering the face is due to a secondary consideration, distinct from the demarcation of what is nakedness and what isn’t.
What this means is that you should focus your religious resolve to do more towards other aspects of life which need to be refined. Work on increasing your righteous works, both in quality and quantity, your gracious character, your religious outlook and comportment and the many other things the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) guided us toward.
Religion isn’t simply outward manifestations.
And Allah Most High knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.